Bonding with a baby can be a daunting thought. Many parents worry about whether they’ll be able to bond with their baby or not. For dads, we don’t have the experience of carrying the baby, breastfeeding the baby or giving birth to the baby to help with our bonding. We have to think a little more creatively. But once you’re a dad, bonding needs to be high on your priority list.
In hindsight, from having had Ted, I’m not sure what both the wife and I were worried about, but we were both anxious about the whole issue of bonding. I’m looking back over my time with Ted and concluding that I do have a great bond with him, so whatever I did, it worked. I’ve spent some time thinking about it and come up with 10 simple ways dads can bond with their baby.
1 Give birth yourself
Ok, of course I know the physical limitations are a fairly big hurdle, but what I mean is, fully involve yourself in the birth. Pack the bag, ask your questions, rub her back, cut the cord, hold the baby as soon as possible. You’re going through a journey too, and acknowledging and embracing this will help you bond from the word go!
2 Take your top off
Whenever possible, get your top off and have a cuddle with your baby. Skin to skin contact goes a long way to building a closeness with your baby.
3 Protect your bath time
This is something all dads should do! I claimed bath time as ‘my’ time with Ted. 20 minutes or so that was just for me and him. I jump in with him and we’ve had that closeness together every evening from when he was born.
4 Go to all appointments
This may not be possible due to work commitments etc, but being part of as much as possible helps you feel connected to your baby. If you know what’s going on first hand you’ll feel closer. Also, when you’re there, make your presence known. There are so many cases of dads being ignored by midwives, health visitors and doctors and this is just wrong! Pull up a seat and be an active presence in the room.
5 Feed your baby
If you’re bottle feeding, you can of course be heavily involved with feeding but if your baby is breastfed it’s a little more tricky. It may be possible for mum to express some breast milk into a bottle so that dad can feed. I’d highly recommend this and it wins brownie points if you adopt the late feed as yours! If expressing isn’t possible, and it can be difficult, there are still a few ways you can be involved in breastfeeding: winding baby, supporting mum, sitting with mum & baby etc
Take the baby for a walk using a baby carrier as often as you can. Early mornings are great, early evenings are good too. The position of the baby, when in a baby carrier is close and intimate. A good time for bonding!
7 Be silly
Playing silly, daft games that involve eye contact, making sounds, talking and touching is a great way of bonding. Toys are essential for this and with the vast range of educational, interactive and creative toys not the market, you’ll definitely find something you can use. My advice is to really be silly and let yourself go. You’ll both have fun! The worst thing that can happen is that your wife films it and sticks it on Facebook…
8 Become a book worm
Reading to your baby is amazing. Not only are you cuddling but also interacting and giving your full attention to your baby; exactly what they want. It’s so important for the baby’s development too.
9 Be confident
The more confident you are the easier it is to bond. The more involved you are, the more confident you’ll be. That’s just the way it is and you can’t do it any other way. You will gain confidence by being involved and you will bond if you’re confident.
10 Have realistic expectations
Think about what you can feasibly do and what your limitations are. It could be work, it could be a lack of confidence or it could be an over-controlling mum. Whatever it is, set realistic expectations and then you won’t beat yourself up. Sometimes I’d find parenting easy and I’d feel really close to Ted and there were other periods where it seemed to be more tricky.
11 Work out together
What? Down the gym! No, but a baby is an excellent weight for bicep curls! Joke!